November 23, 2013, Washington, D.C. – Following intensive negotiations between members of P5+1 and representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) in Geneva, an interim deal on Iran’s nuclear program has been reached. This is an important first step in rebuilding relationships between the two countries.
PAAIA applauds all those involved in the negotiations for their continued focus and pursuit of a diplomatic option in addressing Iran’s nuclear program. PAAIA also thanks Iranian Americans and all those who took action to ensure that policy and lawmakers clearly understood the importance of pursuing diplomacy and providing assistance to the Iranian people. In particular, we welcome the commitment made within the interim agreement to establish a financial channel to facilitate permissible humanitarian trade in food and medicine to Iran. PAAIA, along with many other organizations, has worked over the past year to encourage the administration to facilitate humanitarian trade and strengthen people-to-people ties.
Accoording to the White House Office of the Press Secretary, under this interim deal, Iran has committed to halt enrichment above 5% and to neutralize its stockpile of near-20% uranium. Iran has also committed to halt progress on its enrichment capacity and halt progress on the growth of its 3.5% stockpile. In addition, Iran has committed to no further advances of its activities at Arak and to halt progress on its plutonium track. Iran has additionally committed to unprecedented transparency and intrusive monitoring of its nuclear program and agreed to aggressive verification mechanisms.
In return for these steps, according to the White House, the P5+1 have announced that they would:
- Not impose new nuclear-related sanctions for six months, if Iran abides by its commitments under this deal, to the extent permissible within their political systems.
- Suspend certain sanctions of gold and precious metals, Iran’s auto sector, and Iran’s petrochemical exports, potentially providing Iran approximately $1.5 billion in revenue.
- License safety-related repairs and inspections inside Iran for certain Iranian airlines.
- Allow purchases of Iranian oil to remain at their currently significantly reduced levels – levels that are 60% less than two years ago. $4.2 billion from these sales will be allowed to be transferred in installments if, and as, Iran fulfills its commitments.
- Allow $400 million in governmental tuition assistance to be transferred from restricted Iranian funds directly to recognized educational institutions in third countries to defray the tuition costs of Iranian students.
- Facilitate clear channel for humanitarian transactions that are already allowed by U.S. law related to Iran’s purchase of food, agricultural commodities, medicine, and medical devices.
A 2013 National Public Opinion Survey of Iranian Americans conducted by the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans shows that Iranian Americans support President Obama’s handling of Iran’s nuclear program by a margin of fifty-nine percent (59%) to twenty percent (20%). More than two-thirds (sixty-eight percent) say that they would support the removal of sanctions if the Iranian regime reached an agreement with the U.S. and the international community concerning its nuclear program.
According to President Obama, “The first step that we have taken today marks the most significant and tangible progress that we have made with Iran since I took office. Now, we must use the months ahead to pursue a lasting and comprehensive settlement that would resolve an issue that has threatened our security – and the security of our allies – for decades. It won’t be easy. Huge challenges remain ahead. But through strong and principled diplomacy, the United States of America will do our part on behalf of a world of greater peace, security, and cooperation among nations.”
While the Geneva agreement is only a first step toward a comprehensive deal, we are hopeful that these historic negotiations can lead to opportunities for further engagement and collaborations between the peoples of Iran and the United States. PAAIA looks forward to continuing its efforts to build on this process and support the continued civic participation of our community in such efforts.